Evaluating whether or not to add social media to your marketing mix is always something I’d suggest businesses do. For some industries it just makes sense – that’s where your target customers are, and with a fun business that promotes trendy products or services using gorgeous photos – you’ve got a winning formula.
But when it comes to professional services firms like lawyers, accountants, and other business consultants – the subject matter is a little less sexy – you’re the raisins in the cookie instead of the more delicious option of chocolate chips.
You want your business to have a presence on social media. You’ve read the advantages, you know your next interns are on Facebook, and you know your competition is taking part in Tweet Chats. But you’re not sure it’s worth it, what you’re even doing or how to get the raisin cookie picked up and eaten when there is so much sugar sprinkled cupcakes and gingerbread men to choose from.
So here’s three ways chartered accountants and their businesses can embrace social media and make it work for them.
1. Add value to nurture existing client relationships and create new opportunities
Technology is rapidly changing your clients’ requirements and the way business is done, so how are you ensuring you’re continuing to provide a service that they would recommend to their friends? By ignoring social media you may be missing out on an opportunity.
“But what do I say?” You’re adding value to YOUR clients so a good place to start is by addressing the challenges your own clients face. This approach is likely to address concerns many other business owners have.
Between the tax, audit and business services team brainstorm the challenges your customers face, you know these because they discuss them with you (hopefully), then create (or have someone create it for you) micro-content communicating your solution, along with a visual such as an infographic or good quality stock photo with your logo or heading. You could hit the ground running a little faster by using content you’ve already produced in the past and re-purpose it.
Vincent Servello is a CPA based in Boston, MA and has taken advantage of the inspiration social media platform Pinterest. Servello adds-value to his own clients and creates a brand following by ‘pinning’ a range of typical Pinterest content such as ‘office décor’ inspiration and ‘workwear fashion’, and not so typical content such as ‘QuickBook tips’ and ‘accounting’. Servello has over 1,300 followers who ‘re-pin’ his content to their own public or private boards.
2. Use social media as platform for thought-leadership
Developing and establishing thought leadership is an investment in the development of your reputation. If your reputation creates positive word-of-mouth then it’s worth more to you than marketing and will create new opportunities.
Thought leadership can be created through the power of your ideas, insights, industry knowledge, and data, and demonstrates that you have your finger on the pulse.
Think of the exclusive insights created by PwC’s annual New Zealand CEO survey, or the white papers and ideas curated by the global accounting firm RSM. They invest heavily to publish research, reports, surveys, and strategic perspectives and usually distribute them at no-charge, with a strategic purpose to enhance their firm’s reputation.
Social media is a platform to do this on a smaller and more cost-effective scale. For example, you could have shared the latest update from the NZ Government on proposals for business tax changes, along with a short note on what this would mean for your SME clients, via LinkedIn. Better yet, your firm could write a blog post on it and then use LinkedIn and Twitter to drive readers to the article.
Think about what legislative changes or news is occurring in the industries your clients are in and how those changes impact their business, then share your insights or ideas on the subject, and link through to good quality material.
3. Show off your businesses’ personality
At the end of the day social media is meant to be social. It’s about people so it makes sense to align your business with that core idea.
What you do here will depend on the goals and purpose of the platforms you use. You might be using Facebook to attract the best employees, so sharing more ‘behind-the-scenes’ content (photos and video) is a valuable way to demonstrate your team culture. Remember to maintain a level of professionalism in your images as they’re representing your brand.
You could share photos and insights into:
- Team events
- Employee achievements from outside the office
- Charity events and team fundraising
- National day of recognition your office celebrates or recognises
- Employees attending conferences, seminars or networking functions
Measure both quantitative (traffic to your website and engagement) and qualitative (referrals and feedback) information to gauge whether your time on social media is having a positive impact on your business, test what times and platforms your content is most engaging, and most importantly – have a clear purpose for being on social media – don’t just do it for the sake of it.
Get in touch if you're interested to learn more about digital and social media strategies for your accounting firm.